190,000 Illinoisans Could Benefit
Congressman Phil Hare (D-IL) today voted to extend short-term unemployment benefits to as many as 3.8 million Americans. Nearly 190,000 workers in Illinois could be eligible for additional assistance under the proposal.
"We have a moral obligation to provide assistance to workers that lose their jobs through no fault of their own," Hare said. "Despite Republican efforts to block it, the House was able to pass this important relief for working families."
The Emergency Extended Unemployment Compensation Act would provide up to 13 additional weeks of government unemployment benefits and even more support in those areas with the highest jobless rates. Relief would run through March of 2009.
This legislation follows the release of official statistics showing the largest month-to-month increase in the unemployment rate in more than 20 years. It now stands at 5.5 percent, one percent higher than this time last year. The economy has lost over 300,000 jobs in the first half of 2008 alone.
"These discouraging figures underline the need not only for short-term assistance like extending unemployment benefits but for a real long-term solution to stop the hemorrhaging of good-paying jobs," Hare said. "Congress should pass the TRADE Act, which requires a review and possible renegotiation of the very trade agreements responsible for much of this job loss."
The number of long-term unemployed is higher now than in it was in 2002, when President Bush signed legislation extending unemployment benefits. Yet the Bush Administration has threatened a veto, saying unemployment numbers remain at an acceptable level.
"When it comes to the health and well-being of our workers, it is clear the President's definition of acceptable' falls somewhere between out of touch and downright cruel," Hare said.